In one of his most famous speeches, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said; “Longevity has its purpose.” Assuming that statement to be true, the Ford Ranger must be one of the most purposeful vehicles on the market. In addition to having been around since 1983 — back during the days of the Thompson Twins and Duran Duran, the Ranger’s basic design has only been updated once since its introduction.
Said differently, Ranger ran basically unchanged from 1983 to 1998. And while on the face of it, a statement like that would imply archaic architecture as well as an uncompetitive platform, the truth is the Ford Ranger was then (and through much of its life) the best-selling small pickup truck in America.
For 1998, Ford’s engineers designed a completely new frame and a new front suspension system for the small pickup, which was the last significant mechanical change to the Ranger’s platform — ever. In addition, the Ranger has only been mildly updated cosmetically, inside or out, in the years since.
Over the years, other contenders came along with more powerful engines, more spacious interiors and a broader array of configurations. But still, Ford’s Ranger soldiered on. Ford has announced the truck will cease production in late December of 2011. No word yet on what will replace it, although we know there will most assuredly be one. Still, if, like Duran Duran, you’re “Hungry Like The Wolf” for a super reliable pre-owned small pickup truck, Ford’s Ranger will have you humming the Thompson Twins’ hit “Hold Me Now”. After all, limited changes also means proven hardware.
While much of what you’re about to read here holds true for Ford Rangers built since 1998 in general, this article will specifically cover models built between 2001 and 2011.